Analogue and digital processes

When a process is digital, it is a process where there are unities involved the relation between which is binary. This is the case of language, where the sequence between phonemes is what determines the meaning of a phrase. A phoneme is either a /b/ or it is not a /b/. “Bass” is not the same as “lace” which is different from “ace”.  Needless to say, computers are essentially digital, since everything inside must be broken down into a stream of  zeroes and ones. What is important to note about digital processes is that they are linear. Interpreting the meaning in a digital stream requires that we are able to perceive one unit at a time. Only one person can speak at a time, and though we are masters at processing simultaneous streams of phonemes, text and other binary information, while filling out the missing parts, and short term storing for later processing when under perceptual pressure, digital processes still remain linear and non-simultaneous.

In analogue processes, the relation between elements is gradient. Perceiving gesture is an analogue process, since it gives us information not only about is-it-a-smile or is-it-not-a-smile, but also about the width of the smile, the duration, its development over time. Analogue processes are perceived simultaneously. We take our surroundings in holistically, receiving sensorial information through all channels at the same time, as we are bathed in sounds, movements, colours, smells, etc. Analogue processes are context dependent. My perceiving of your smile as the happiest smile possible is only due to the fact that I know by experience how you as an individual smile in different contexts. And because I know that a minute ago you were sad. The same smile might be interpreted as a completely disinterested gesture, by a stranger seeing it on a photo on facebook.

Digital and analogue processes coexist, and when you engage in the digital process of forming sequences of phonemes, you inevitably supply it with prosodic, gestural and motoric ‘tracks’ of analogue information.


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  1. […] It is the redistribution or democratisation of the processes of cultural expression and it is their embedding in collectives. And it is the empowerment of these collectives, providing them with a ‘cultural filter’ through which new influences can be integrated, making the collectives adaptable to necessary changes, while safeguarding them from damaging attacks from outside political, cultural or commercial forces. An impulse that might take one form or another according to context. Like this hybrid between flower and leaf, – what happened? How can this be achieved? It doesn’t make sense to try to recreate the conditions of pre-industrial society, where local communities drew  upon tradition, family and religion for collective problem solving. These archaic entities simply do not have the flexibility any longer to include new elements and processes in the growing interrelatedness of our global societies in a sustainable way. The back-to-the-roots dream of first wave sustainability pioneers doesn’t do the trick. Our current solution, where we have deposited the responsibility for collective problem solving in ever growing mega-organisations certainly doesn’t either. Let’s take the example of education: Solving the problem of preparing the next generation for developing healthy societies has been allocated to a silo called the school, totally isolated from the actual problem solving activities in the surrounding political, commercial or non-governmental organisations. Since we measure the outcome of this problem solving activity using a binary approach, we push schools towards an ever increasing focus on logico-deductive thinking, thus ruling out the other, analogue ways of reflection. Nevertheless, the actual problems our societies face are more and more complex and their solution requires cross modal thinking and a cross disciplinary approach. Analogue approaches to evaluation need to be locally embedded, and they require broad skills from those who engage in understanding the scope and character of the problems, the solution of which should be in the hands of the same people who have this direct, analogue and reflected contact with the problems. Our current binary approach to evaluation contributes to the elephantiasis of our organisations with their myopic focus on each one specific problem to solve. Based on our market economy, each silo will fight for its on self-preservation, and there is no logical relationship between the scope and character of the solutions found and the size and relevance of the problems they solve. Definition of analogue vs. digital processes […]


  2. […] a way of working with sound that is musical in the sense that it draws on the essential elements of analogue reflection through sound, although it does not share the caracteristics that people in general would expect […]


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